New tools will be developed to help female cancer patients in Yorkshire make more informed decisions about their future fertility following funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The £250,000 project, led by researchers at the University of Sheffield, will build on previous research which shows that women across the county do not feel well-supported in making choices about preserving their ability to have children while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Increasing survival rates mean more women than ever before are living with the long-term effects of their cancer treatment.
Dr Georgina Jones, Reader in Social Science at the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), said: “It is incredibly important that we start to address the late effects of cancer treatment. Female cancer patients are required to make decisions about fertility preservation rapidly, before starting chemotherapy. These decisions are stressful, complex and the consequences are eternally binding.
“Despite this, most women fail to receive any guidance until their consultation with a fertility expert. Our previous research has shown that this negatively affects women’s psychological well-being and their quality of life. Women want to receive specialist information sooner.”
In a recent national study, the charity Breast Cancer Care found that only 12% of 170 women had been referred to a fertility consultant, and many were unaware that infertility could be a consequence of chemotherapy1. Another UK investigation involving 100 oncologists found that 87% wanted more information about fertility preservation, and a third stated they did not usually refer patients who had questions about fertility to a specialist fertility service2.
Dr Jones and her team will develop an extensive range of resources that will be made available to oncologists and nurses so they can offer them to patients before they see a fertility expert.
Once created, the resources will be reviewed by a wide range of key stakeholders including oncologists, nurses, fertility experts, patients and charities before being introduced to newly-diagnosed women who are referred to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield or the Leeds Cancer Centre at St James’ Hospital. All women aged 16 or over, facing chemotherapy and considering their future fertility will be invited to receive the information.
The impact of the project will then be evaluated and the findings, along with the resources, will be made available to all female cancer patients free of charge through a wide range of organisations and charities.
Dr Jones said: “Our aim is for patients to feel better supported and more informed at the time of planning their cancer treatment and before referral to the fertility expert. It should enable women to make better informed decisions, have more focused consultations with the fertility experts, and have a better opportunity to ask the right questions at the right time during the fertility consultation.
“The availability of these resources should also raise awareness amongst women of this possible late effect of cancer treatment and encourage them to seek fertility care and advice at this crucial time.”
Notes to Editors – Yorkshire Cancer Research
- Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research is the UK’s largest regional medical research charity (registered charity no. 516898)
- During 2015 we will mark our 90th anniversary with a renewed commitment to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
- Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
- Current statistics show that 527 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
- We aim to:
- Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
- Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
- Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
- Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient’s journey.
- Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
- For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
- Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer – Yorkshire Cancer Research
- Tel: 01423 877 228
- Last updated: 16/09/2015
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